On the Record:
Left Overs ... Additions, corrections, and thoughts on past installments of the history
by Steven C. Barr
The initial assignment of numbers in the Canadian Bluebird series started French language records at B-4900
and English language records at B-4950. These numbers were used in the U.S. for Irish records in the U.S.
Bluebird ethnic series. It is unknown why the conflict was allowed to exist for so long! In 1934, a B-4700
"Irish", later "Fiddling", series was introduced, but quickly dropped after a few records were issued. When the
B-4900 French series reached B-4949, it was followed by B-4800, while the English language B-4999 was
followed by B-4600, which in turn extended into B-4700 after apparently "leapfrogging" the handful of 4700
numbers already used. The French-language records, apparently, upon reaching B-4899, started into a B-1000
series (although it is not yet verified exactly what the starting point was). The last records issued in these series
were B-4742 and B-1298, both issued in December 1942. At this point the hyphenated numbers were started,
with English records in a 55-3200 series and French records in a 55-5200 series. There may have been a 55-
0000 series intended but none ever appeared.
On Victor, the 263000 series was apparently dropped in 1942 as none appears in a group of supplements from
July 1942 onward. 216610 was issued in August 1942 and 216611 was apparently the last number used. The
120000 series was replaced in 1943, although two more couplings of European (not British) sides appeared
before the last number of 120984 appeared in 1944. The hyphenated series were 56-3200 for U.K. material and
56-5200 for French material recorded in Montreal. In 1943, the 150000 series, originally used for issues of
French (or nominally French) material from non-Canadian sources was revived and used for French (i.e. From
France itself) material; it was the only all-number series retained, and had reached 150230 in mid-1949. In April
1945, a popular Montreal-recorded series was started at 56-0000 oddly enough, appearing in the supplements
as 56-001! with four Mart Kenney sides. This was apparently dropped in the early 1950s as Canadian
material later appears on the 56-3200 series, whose last British-recorded issue was 56-3233 in September 1948.
Although the Bluebird label was dropped in the U.S. in 1945 (with a short-lived revival in 1949) it was
continued in Canada, being used for Country and some French material. After 1946, the records appeared on the
RCA Victor label, but carried blue labels and "Bluebird Series" designations. The series were as above, with a
third 58-0000 series used for issues of U.S. country music which appeared on RCA Victor in the U.S. This
series was in use until 1955 at least. For unknown reasons, a very few RCA Victor C&W records were issued in
Canada as black-label Victors, with at least one label numbered in the 21-0000 series used for C&W in the U.S.
from 1949 to 1951.
The 16000-D series, released only in Canada, appears to have included some Canadian material, at least toward
the end of its life in 1932. They appear to be primarily, if not entirely, recordings made at a yet undetermined
site for issue originally on the 34000-F French series, comprising various country dance records; artists include
Ben Hokea, and several French-Canadian performers of traditional Québécois material. The highest number
seen so far in this series is 16129-D released early in 1933.
American Record Company
In the article on Canadian Brunswick, it was briefly noted that Compo dropped the Brunswick label in 1933 and
all connection with ARC in 1936 when the Decca label became a Compo-pressed label. It has now been
established that Brunswick, Columbia, Vocalion and Perfect records were imported, presumably, and distributed
by a firm named "Canada Record Company" operating from 124 Dundas St. W. in Toronto. The Melotone label
was still in use by Compo and the remaining ARC labels were all pressed for various stores in the U.S.
Although there is still considerable research to be done, it is worth noting that there is a definite similarity,
including identical typefaces, between the supplements issued for these labels and a 1940 Compo-Decca
catalogue in my ownership. It remains to be discovered whether this firm started in 1936 to distribute ARC
pressings or earlier to distribute Columbia and post-1934 Brunswick records.